Phone (and TV) Tapping

Within is a Conversation with the Ceausescus’ regarding Phone Tapping

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog entry showing the “new” phone models. The excerpt here from Pacepa’s 1987 book shows the connivance behind the introduction of the colorful phones. The extent of the control over Romanian’s daily lives is mind blowing.

From Ion Mihai Pacepa’s “Red Horizons” Pages I35-137

“ “Approved [Ceausescu speaks] Starting today March 28. 1978. this is the one and only phone approved for use in Romania. Period.   “How many old telephones do we have in use today?”

“More than three million,” [Lieutenant General] Diaconescu promptly replied.

“Replace them with the new ones”, Ceausescu ordered. 

“I don’t understand, Nick. What’s  the difference between this one and the black one I have in my Office?” Elena [Ceausescu] asked,  a little embarrassed. She knows nothing about how the tapes are made that she so avidly listens to in the back room of her office.

.‘The d-dilference is t-that you never have the new one, neither in your office nor at home,” Ceausescu answered,  winking toward us. He also stutters when measurably excited.

“May we do a demonstration? Comrade Supreme Commander?” asked Diaconescu.

“Go ahead,” approved Ceausescu, with a large smile on his face and a glow in his eyes. Being addressed as “Supreme Commander” is even more exciting for him than having sex, or so Diaconescu had told me a few days earlier.

“To this portable monitoring center we have hooked up four phones that are installed in four diiferent, randomly selected apartments. Two are the kind we use now, and two are the new model. The monitoring center is voice-activated, so it will automatically start recording when any one of the phones is in use. It’s recording one conversation right now,” said Diaconescu, pointing to a moving recorder. The conversation could clearly be heard in the exhibit room when he pushed a button. “The recorder stops when the conversation is over, as it just did. That’s all we can record with the old phones. But now let’s listen to the new one.” Diaconescu dialed a number and asked if it was the National Theater. “Wrong number” came from the other end of the line, but the tape recorder did not stop after the telephone had been hung up. A woman’s voice could be heard asking who had called. “Some idiot who put his finger in the wrong hole. Let me finish what I was listening to on Radio Free Europe about the trip the Dictator and his old bag are making to the United States,” the man’s voice replied, before being cut off sharply. Diaconescu’s Hand had flicked Off a Switch. His hand, darting out faster than a snake. He always did have good reflexes. The deadly silence was interrupted when Diaconescu flicked another switch. A fuzzy noise together with heavy breathing and short yelps came suddenly out of the speaker, but Dlaconescu’s quick hand immediately Shut it off. . . . “Turn it back on.” Elena ordered with a biting voice. Her experienced ear was almost as good as Diaconescu’s. “They should be arrested.” she ordered, after listening a few more minutes, “At eleven in the morning, Working people should be out working not making love.”

Ceausescu moved along a few steps. [General] Geartu was holding up a normal-looking telephone outlet, explaining that inside its plastic body there was a concealed mini-microphone, which could not be found without the outlet’s complete destruction. It was to be used in other rooms that did not have the telephone device in them, so that a whole apartment could be covered. The same display contained several other new pieces of equipment designed by the DGTO [General Directorate of Technical Operations] for use in villages where people often had no telephone. Ceausescu’s eye was caught by a television set with a built-in transmitter that could be activated by a remote control matching its code. “We propose introducing this microtransmitter in all television sets that are to be sold in rural areas. One advantage with having it there is that it would have a constant source of power, eliminating the need for batteries. And for another thing, a television set is silent eighty percent of the time.” Romanian television programs are on the air only a few hours a day.

“If we’re going to use this hocus-pocus, we could even shorten the daily program. Some news and a film about the Party is all the people need, isn’t that so, Nick?” asked Elena.

“Approved,” Ceausescu said, moving on to a display showing monitoring equipment for restaurants. The ceramic ashtrays and flower vases caught his attention. Geartu reported that, by the end of the next five-year plan, every restaurant would be equipped with only ceramic ashtrays and vases containing them’, battery-activated micro-transmitters. They could be turned on by any surveillance ofiicer or waitress-agent, who needed only to pull out a needle-like pin.

First invented by the Soviet KGB, ceramic ashtrays and flower……” (End of excerpt)

Later in the conversation Pacepa recalls Diaconescu promising that they will be able to monitor ten million microphones simultaneously.

The secret police (Securitate) in 1985 employed 14,000 agents in a population of 22 million with 486,000 informants.

Romanians today have limited access to their Securitate files and some files have been altered to protect the names of the guilty.

Published by Eric Sorlien

I am 51 and live in Philadelphia USA. I traveled to Romania about 30 years ago and I remember it still.

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